If you’ve been following this site much, you’ll notice I love anniversaries: the 100th anniversary of Double Ten, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China, and the various anniversaries of the Fall of Saigon and the Hong Kong Handover. I suppose I’m into these milestones because they bring together my passion for history and Asia.
So as I think about anniversaries, I realize this year marks 50 years since my mom first stepped foot in Hong Kong. It gives me goosebumps just thinking how different my life would have been if my mom (and her family) had never traveled there. Here’s a little photo montage of Hong Kong back in 1962, the year my 20 year old mother first visited.
Kai Tak Airport used to be one of the highlights of Hong Kong. I miss it like a deceased relative. Kai Tak was that special.
This photo shows the Central district and one of the world’s most beautiful skylines. This is my favorite view in the whole world, even with all the buildup since 1962.
Here’s Central up close and personal. The police pagodas have long been replaced by traffic lights and the traffic has worsened considerably. It’s still just as glamorous.
Floating restaurants were a big tourist attraction even back in 1962. Stubborn and determined not to be a tourist in Hong Kong, I never set foot in one. But I wish I had, just for the experience. This Tai Pak was out in the countryside and left Hong Kong long ago.
Aberdeen was another tourist spot back then, complete with other floating restaurants. My mom probably took this photo from the Aberdeen Tai Pak.
By the time I arrived in Hong Kong in 1990, sampans were a thing of the past, besides the occasional tourist jaunt. Back in 1962, they were still commonplace.
This photo was snapped a year before my mom stayed at the Sun Ya Hotel in Mongkok. From the photos I’ve seen from this area back then, not much changed between 1961 and 1962. Incidentally, I often hung out in this area some 30 years after my mom stayed here. I spent my 24th birthday at the Broadway theater.
Here’s what the hotel looked like during the day.
To put this trip in perspective, Hong Kong was developing quickly with a growing manufacturing industry while China was just coming out of the Great Leap Forward. The Hong Kong-China mail route was reopened in 1962 and in six short months, Hong Kong folks sent more than 6.2 million packages of food and clothing across the border to China. Refugees poured into Hong Kong from China–and were all settled. (Thirty years later, when I first lived in Hong Kong, tens of thousands of refugees arrived there by boat from Vietnam.)
Across the South China Sea, Chiang Kai-shek was still running the show in Taiwan under martial law.
May Hong Kong enjoy 10,000 years of prosperity. Happy New Year!